The good

'Pilates classes help keep European military communities fit - FMWRC - US Army - 100924' photo (c) 2010, U.S. Army - license:

Ever wondered what equipment is the most useful for working out with?  There are so many things out there, sometimes its hard to weed out which ones would be the most helpful to reach your goals.  Some of this equipment can be used for many different exercises, which I think is the most important criteria.  If you're going to spend money on something, you want to make sure that you can do a variety of things with it, because if its only good for one thing, its possible that you'll get bored of that one thing, and then the equipment will spend a lot of time getting dusty in your basement.

Here are some of my favorites:

1.  Weights. These are the most versatile things.  Everyone should have weights, and in my opinion the most useful ones are 3-8 lb weights, depending on your fitness level.  Bigger weights aren't as versatile, even though they can be great to have around.  You can always make the exercise more difficult by making the exercise less stable, or doing more reps.  You can't make something easier if the weights are too heavy.
2.  Stability ball.  The ball is very helpful for making an exercise less stable, and therefore working out your core at the same time as working out the rest of your body.  It is a great way to alter some of your regular exercises to make them harder, so this is a fantastic thing to have around.  As long as you have room in your home for a gigantic ball, that is.
3.  Resistance bands:  Physical therapists often use these to strengthen specific muscles.  They are great for targeting small muscles that are sometimes hard to get to with weights.  They are also easy to store, and cheap to buy.
4.  Bosu ball:  These are a little pricey, but is a great tool for working on balance and developing a stronger core.  These are perfect for a skier or snowboarder because of the instability of the Bosu, and what that does for your quads, hamstrings, and abs.  If you can afford it, its a great thing to have around.
5.  Kettlebell:  These are hot right now, and aren't extremely important to have.  Most of the Kettlebell exercises, you can do just as well with regular weights.  However, they are really fun to workout with.  I find that a 10-20lb weight Kettlebell is the most useful weight to work with.  They are fun to swing around, and generally make you feel like a bad a$$ working out with them.  Make sure to have someone show you how to use them though, it can be easy to hurt your back swinging these around improperly.

In my next entry, I'll let you know what equipment is the least versatile and effective, in my opinion.

What is your favorite workout equipment?

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